Internet citizenship

I noticed something strange about the book. "The pages don't have numbers on them, Don."

"No," he said. "You just open it and whatever you need most is there."

"A magic book!"

"No. You can do it with any book."

Richard Bach, 1977, Illusions.


Navigation within a page

When people are looking for something on the Web, they will just scan the links on a page. This is a quick way to get a feel for what the page is about and where it will take you.

That means that phrases like "click here" are more than useless. They actually slow people down and annoy them.

Click here for information about the Foozel.
To find out about the natural enemy of the Foozel, click here.
Or, if you want to buy Foozel food, click here.

A much better example would read something like this:

I have collected some information about the Foozel, and its natural enemy, the Black Pigeon.
Please remember to buy food for your Foozel.

Almost exactly the same information but better links, which leads to better scanning.

It also leads to better navigation. Think of a link as a tiny window into the page that it leads to. That is, it should give people a reasonable idea of what they will find when they get there. Make your links meaningful.

Navigation within an organisation

If you are adding pages to an organisational Web site, please remember that you are part of an organisation, with a structure and a logo.

If you don't tell people what organisation you belong to, and where in the organisation you sit, they have no way of judging the value of your information.

Often, they will have followed a link from another site or a search engine. They end up coming to your site with little or no context. If you show where your Web page sits within an organisation, they will quickly work out whether they are in the right place or not.

Navigation out to the Web

Remember that the World Wide Web is one giant resource. You can point to any other page on the Web.

Research has shown that a good referral from your Web page to another Web page will think well of your site. And that means that they are more likely to come back and use your site again.

So, if you know of a site which answers questions that you don't, point people to it. They will thank you for it.